When you are dealing with the pain of grief from the loss of a loved one, we encourage you to reach out to a local support group, confide in close friends or family, or seek counseling. No one should have to feel disabled by their grief. You CAN find support while coping with loss.
Managing grief and loss can be very overwhelming and isolating at any time of the year, not to mention during the holidays. Whether you have just recently lost someone and this will be your first holiday season without your loved one, or your 10th, it can be extremely difficult maintain the happiness and gratitude that pressure us all during this time.
There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to grief at the holidays according to Amy Morin over on Psychology Today.
- Trust that grief is a part of the healing
- Set healthy boundaries
- Focus on what you can control
- Plan ahead
- Allow yourself to feel a range of emotions
- Create new traditions
- Do something kind for others
- Ask for help
Grief is never something that you will “get over”, and understanding that will help aide in the process. It often comes in waves, and the holiday season can sometimes be a more difficult wave. As the holidays tend to be about spending time with family and loved ones, it can always be a reminder that you are missing that special someone.
It’s okay to feel sad or mad during this time. Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean you have to be happy and grateful every second of the day. Allowing yourself to feel the emotions that come up will help to eliminate the guilt and pressure that we often put on ourselves to “get through” something.
A lot of people find that doing something for someone else, like volunteering, or buying gifts for those in need can help fill a void they might be feeling during the season. This can help you feel like you are doing something positive with your time, honoring your loved one, and creating an atmosphere of gratitude with are all great ways to heal.
Dr. Melissa Estavillo talks about this topic in the video below:
Know that you are not alone in your grief. Many other people are also going through something similar during this time. There are often support groups in your area, and if you’re here in the Phoenix, Arizona area please don’t hesitate to call us to set up an appointment with one of our wonderful grief therapists.
When you are dealing with the pain of infertility, or a tragedy like the loss of an infant, we encourage you to reach out to a local support group, confide in close friends or family, or seek the help from an infertility counselor. No one should have to go through something like this alone.
At some point in our lives, we will lose someone we love. Grief can be a very complicated and heavy thing, that doesn’t necessarily go away but definitely gets easier. Everyone grieves differently, and there is no perfect way to deal with losing someone you love.
When you lose someone to suicide, the grieving process can be quite different. There is often shock, sadness, guilt, and anger tied to the loss. While the process can be different for the person experiencing the grief, it can also be perceived as different from the outside. Often when you lose someone to old age, an accident, or a terminal illness, the loss gains sympathy and compassion.
However sometimes when you lose someone to suicide, there can sometimes be judgement and blame from the outside. This is why the grief can be so different when suicide is involved. Not only is the loved one blaming themselves, the people around them can sometimes put that blame on them as well.
Focusing on the happier times with your loved one is part of grieving. Thinking back on fond memories, and talking about the more positive times can help encourage acceptance and fill the void of loss. However with suicide, the memories can be clouded with anger and sadness. When you don’t understand why your loved one took their own life, positive memories can be harder to remember than negative ones.
According to Deborah Serani Psy.D. and her article on Psychology Today, there are a few ways to help a survivor of suicide:
- Don’t be afraid to acknowledge the death.
- Ask the survivor if and how you can help.
- Encourage openness.
- Be patient.
Like any type of loss, the people that surround the survivor can be stuck with how to respond or act. And it can come off as neglect or like the person doesn’t care. But usually it’s a lack of knowledge on how to help. Making sure you are verbally letting the person know how much you care, and asking them how they would like to be helped during this difficult time can go a long way.
If you are the survivor of someone who has died by suicide, Dr Serani also has some tips:
- Ground yourself. Remind yourself every day that you are not responsible for your loved ones decision. Do not let guilt become a part of your process.
- Don’t put a limit on your grief. It takes time. And however long it takes, or whatever you need to get through it is okay.
- Plan ahead. Sometimes certain places, dates, memories can be difficult for a long time. This is normal. Know that grief also ebbs and flows. So if you’re doing great for a long time, and a memory sets you back, it’s okay. It’s still a part of the process.
- Make connections. Seek help. Whether it’s through a therapist, a friend, or a support group. It can be very beneficial to be surrounded by people who care during this difficult time.
- Give yourself permission. To be happy again. To still be sad. To be whatever it is you need to be.
If you or anyone you know might be suffering or having thoughts of suicide, seek help at the National Suicide Lifeline 1800-273-8255
Earlier in the week we shared a TED Talk about how to start a conversation about suicide. In the last few months we have had a number of big name celebrities die from suicide. Our media once again has become saturated with those who many of us look up to and their decision to take their own lives.
Whether you think that posting about it, talking about it, or sharing about it glorifies suicide or supports prevention, there are a few basic steps we all need to be reminded of to help someone close to use who might be struggling.
According to Elana Premack Sandler L.C.S.W, M.P.H and her article on Psychology Today, there are 5 simple steps for suicide prevention.
- Keep Them Safe
- Be There
- Help Them Connect
- Follow Up
It is hard to know what to do when someone we love has started to talk about suicide. Do we talk to them about it? Do we call for help? Do we ignore it and hope it goes away? Do we force them to get help?
These days there are a number of suicide prevention numbers and hotlines to call. 1-800-273-8255 is the National Suicide Hotline, and here in Arizona there is a local number called Empact 1-480-784-1514
But when you are close to someone and see them struggling, it’s easy to be unsure of what to do. These 5 simple steps are easy to remember, and can help someone you love get the help they need. Sometimes we are afraid of asking if someone is thinking about taking their own life, but we need to ask these tough questions. It opens the door for our loved ones to know that we care about them, and are concerned. When we take action to keep them safe, we can keep a situation from escalating. We can keep them on the phone, go over to their house if possible, send a neighbor or a friend over while we are connecting them with phone numbers or other resources for help.
It is important to follow up with our loved one and ask them how they are doing. By following up we are letting that person know we care about their long term health and happiness, and are willing to step in to keep them safe.
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please give them the Empact Crisis Line phone number 1-480-784-1514 or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255
We are here to help as well. If you have any questions or would like to set up an appointment, call our office at 1-480-999-7070.
By Leah Brignall
It can be very difficult to help children cope with and understand loss and death. Separation from loved ones can be frightening for them. The book The Invisible String, by Patrice Karst is a great tool to help children feel comfort. The book explains that there is an invisible sting that helps connect loved ones even when they are not near. Not only can this apply to death, it could also help a child who has a loved one move or deploy, or who has fear of being without a parent. Having a book like this can help start a conversation to help the child feel safe. For further help, it doesn’t hurt to see a counselor and get some parenting support.